Video Search Coming to X-box Live

On the march to Microsoft’s transition of X-box from simple game console device to living room entertainment hub, the company announced the acquisition of yet another piece of the total solution to entertainment nirvana-video search technology. VideoSurf, whose technology "sees" frames inside videos to make discovering content fast, easy and accurate, will now be integrated into the X-box.

Video content analytics is a keystone addition to the mix of services Microsoft plans to provide. It should do for video and the literal ocean of voice and image data locked in its frames, what text-based search did for the written word online. With this technology, it’s now possible to do both visual and audio searches from web sites, as well as premium content providers like Bravo and HBO, to find specific videos in real-time. There’s even a mobile app available from VideoSurf as well.

You can see a cool VideoSurf video that covers the four critical components of the technology; identify, surf, watch, and share. For example, there is a social component to the technology that offers personal profile, my search, and also allows user to "like" a show and actually post a specific video scene along with the comments. That’s sure to get interaction flowing in the social space.

Click to watch the video

The video ID technology is at the cutting edge of next generation search, delving into the video in meaningful ways for viewers. Voice and image recognition software can be applied to video frames to identify specific people and objects.

The implications are not only a richer viewing experience, but commerce will use the technology to recognize and tag images, offering new and compelling ways to connect advertisers with customers interactively with a growing base of content.

One look at the X-box content page tells the story with key players lined up in U.S. and worldwide that include ESPN, HuluPlus and Netflix. Microsoft claims up to 40 providers including Bravo, Cinemanow, HBOGo and many others will be available to the MS Live network "at some future point in time." Regionally, Microsoft announced content partnerships with BBC in the U.K.; Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and Mediaset in Italy.

The picture is becoming more lucid, as Microsoft has continued to introduce new and compelling technology to improve its X-box offering. Kinect gesture driven input is one good example, along with Bing voice enabled search, which extends the human input range beyond mouse and keyboard to the growing base of content the X-box Live system is building for its 35M subscribers.

When technologies are added up, Microsoft has a compelling offering to bring to the living room. This includes gesture (Kinect) and voice activated input, video phone features (Skype) combined with the power of text based search, (Bing) and now video search (VideoSurf) all conceivable accessible from both the Xbox game console and potentially, Windows Mobile O/S in the future. And perhaps the best lesson for Apple and Google TV offerings, never count out Microsoft; they keep swinging until they get it right.

By Steve Sechrist, Display Daily